Dec. 1, 1997
Empty Tanks

“Most people know the story of the F-111s adapting to the Iraqi tank patterns, being able to find them buried in the sand because of the differentials in heat as the night cooled and the tanks stayed warm. … The Iraqi tankers became accustomed to this idea that, if they slept in their tank, they might die.

“Well, just the other day I came across a briefing done by an independent analysis agency … for the Army, trying to explain why it was so easy for the American Army to beat the Iraqi army. One of the conclusions … is that there was a difference in training. The difference in training was exemplified by the fact that, when American tankers came across the horizon to face the Iraqi tankers, those stupid Iraqi tankers weren’t even sleeping in their tanks like a well-trained American tanker would.

“These different interpretations of the same event tend to confuse the issue, don’t they?”–Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles D. Link in Oct. 31, 1997, remarks at an Eaker Institute Colloquy held in Washington.

Course Correction

“An American general asked a Polish major familiar with the details of a particular rail complex [in Poland] whether we could reasonably expect to transport a NATO armored division through it in one week’s time. The amused major replied by asking the general how many Soviet heavy divisions he thought they planned on moving through the same location when the trains were going the other way.”–Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen in Oct. 21 testimony on NATO expansion before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Where Honor Is Found

“There’s been no end to the controversy surrounding the purpose and conduct of the Vietnam War. But, whatever history’s ultimate verdict about that war, one truth remains unassailable: Those who were called to duty there found their honor in their answer, if not in their summons. By that standard, our friends who did not come home with us are ranked among the most honorable Americans to have ever worn the uniform of this country.”–Sen. John McCain (R­Ariz.), who spent nearly six years as a POW in North Vietnamese prisons, in a Sept. 19, 1997, Washington speech honoring POWs and MIAs from all wars.

The Navy and the JSF

“It [the Joint Strike Fighter] is a very expensive plane to develop. We are going to have to come up with a cheaper way to develop this aircraft. … There are so many unique requirements being put on it by the services that the program could have trouble.”–Vice Adm. Donald L. Pilling, deputy chief of naval operations, quoted by Thomas E. Ricks in the Sept. 9, 1997, Wall Street Journal.

Shadowy Presence

“If every carrier battle group in the Navy’s fleet were posted off the Korean peninsula, the entire armada would fail to provide as much ‘preventive’ influence as the single Army division and Air Force units deployed there now.”–Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, USA (Ret.), former director of the National Security Agency, in an article published in the July/August 1997 issue of Foreign Affairs.

Sounds Like “Quagmire”

“In June 1998, [Stabilization Force’s] mission will end, as President Clinton has said, but the international community’s engagement will continue. Whether an international security presence is part of that engagement, and what role the United States might play, remains to be decided. … The United States has an important interest in the establishment of a lasting peace in Bosnia. The best way to advance that interest is through the framework agreed upon in those [Dayton] negotiations. That’s why America has a significant and continuing stake in Dayton’s success.”–National Security Adviser Samuel Berger in a Sept. 23, 1997, speech at Georgetown University, Washington.

Still Sounds Like “Quagmire”

“Let me just say, again, very simply, that we have said that there will be an international presence in the [Balkan] region, politically and economically, because we have interests in the region for strategic as well as humanitarian reasons. No decisions have been made as far as the presence of US forces or NATO forces, following the termination of the SFOR mission in June 1998.”–Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a Sept. 24, 1997, press briefing in New York following a meeting of foreign ministers on Bosnia.

Uncle Schwarzenegger

“Never before in modern history has a country dominated the Earth so totally as the United States does today. American idols and icons are shaping the world from Katmandu to Kinshasa, from Cairo to Caracas. … The Americans are acting, in the absence of limits put to them by anybody or anything, as if they own a blank check in their ‘McWorld.’ Strengthened by the end of Communism and an economic boom, Washington seems to have abandoned its self-doubts from the Vietnam trauma. America is now the [Arnold] Schwarzeneg-ger of international politics: showing off muscles, obtrusive, intimidating.”–From Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, as quoted in the Nov. 4, 1997, Washington Post.